Astronomers Discover A Black Hole Hiding In The Milky Way

Posted: Feb 4 2017, 2:39pm CST | by , Updated: Feb 4 2017, 2:48pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

Astronomers Discover a Black Hole Hiding in the Milky Way
Artist’s impression of a stray black hole hurtling through a dense gas cloud. Credit: Credit: Keio University

Japanese researchers believe they have found a new way for identifying black holes

Black holes mostly lie at the centers of the galaxies. As the name suggest, these objects are completely black. Their gravitational pull is so intense that nothing, not even light, can escape, which makes them even harder to locate.

Researchers have to infer the presence of a black hole from the effects on its surrounding area. For instance if a black hole is located near a star, gas streams in nearby area create a disk around it. When the disk heats up due to gravitational pull, it emits intense radiations, signifying the presence of the black hole. But if a black hole is wandering alone in space and there are no observable emissions, it cannot be detected with most telescopes.

Now, Japanese researchers from Keio University believe they have found a novel technique to detect hidden black holes. The team of researchers was observing molecular clouds located 10,000 light-years away from Earth when they noticed the signs of a hidden black hole at the edge of supernova remnants called W44.

Researchers found that the compact molecular cloud was travelling at a speed of more than 100 kilometers per second, which is faster than the speed of sound in interstellar space. Due to its enigmatic motion, researchers nicknamed the cloud “Bullet."

More intensive observations of the gas cloud with ASTE and the Nobeyama 45-m Radio Telescope revealed that the cloud is carrying immense kinetic energy, which was not consistent with the estimated motion of the cloud.

“Most of the Bullet has an expanding motion with a speed of 50 km/s, but the tip of the Bullet has a speed of 120 km/s," said lead researcher Masaya Yamada. "Its kinetic energy is a few tens of times larger than that injected by the W44 supernova. It seems impossible to generate such an energetic cloud under ordinary environments.”

All these signs are pointing towards a dark and compact gravity source, possibly a black hole that is up to 36 times more massive than sun.

Previous studies estimate that 100 million to 1 billion black holes should exist in the Milky Way, but only 60 or so have been identified through standard observations to date. The new method could prove helpful in detection of those millions of black holes lurking in the universe.

"We found a new way of discovering stray black holes," said co-lead researcher Tomoharu Oka.

With future observations, researchers are hoping to confirm the existence of a black hole in the fast-moving cloud Bullet.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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